Prep Baseball Report

East Coast Pro: Florida Standouts

By Doug Freeman
Florida Scouting Director

Tampa, FL—East Coast Pro brings not only some of the best players around the state, but around the country to Tampa, FL. This is yet another great opportunity to evaluate some of the best players in the state as they compete against other top prospects.

Of all the players in attendance, there were 32 that represented the state of Florida and, needless to say, all of these players are very talented. With that being said there were some who stood out over the first two days of the event.

On day one, the first standout was a new resident to the state of Florida in C M.J. Melendez. After a solid round of batting practice, Melendez showed off his best tool on defense, consistently showing 1.90-1.95 pop times. During the game he also showed off a shorter, more compact swing, which resulted in a home run to right field as well as line drive to the second basemen. Melendez has shown to be one of the best defensive catchers in the country and has consistently improved both his swing and approach leading to more consistent hard contact with some power. He moved to Florida with his father, Mervyl Melendez, taking over as head coach at Florida International.

Along with Melendez, here are the rest of the Florida standouts:

+ 1B Tim Elko (Hillsborough HS, FL) produced his team's first hit on the first and followed that up with a triple over the center fielder’s head. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound corner infielder is strong and athletic, with a confident, comfortable approach at the plate. To go along with the two hits, he also stole a base, drove in and scored a run. Elko has consistently shown his ability to square up high-end pitching.

+ RHP Robert Touron (Gulliver Prep, FL) pitched mostly 90-92 mph, touching 93 and 94 with his fastball early from a 3/4 slot with a quick arm and some effort. Touron has a projectable frame and showed a sweeping slider at 74-78 mph and a changeup at 80-84 mph. Touron struck out three and even though there is some work to be done with the offspeed stuff, the prjection and quick arm continue to make him a very interesting arm.

+ RHP Brandon McCabe (Home Schooled, FL) struggled with command, but showed off a live arm with a fastball ranging from 88-91 mph, touching 93 mph. McCabe has a lot of effort in his delivery and sported a slightly less boisterous scream than heard in the past, but showed of his plus curveball which was 78-79 mph. The curveball has tight spin with depth and produced a swing and miss on four of his six strikeouts for the day. It looks like McCabe has worked on using a more repeatable delivery with less effort and when everything was on time and on line the fastball came out very well with late life and the curveball had the same spin on the same plane as the fastball.

+ SS Mark Vientos (American Heritage HS, FL) had a solid two days overall. Playing both at short and third, he made some nice plays, showing his ability to play both positions at an above average level with good hands and an above average arm. At the plate, he squared up several balls including a double in the left-center field gap. He has a wide base with quick hands, but shows some length in his swing. Being young for his class and standing at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, you can see him continuing to get stronger and creating more power to go along with the present feel for the barrel and above average defense.

+C Patrick Irish (Allen D Nease HS, FL) stood out with a 6-foot-2, 190 pound and pop times consistently in the 2.0-2.1 range. Also showing a simple short swing with quick hands and some pop, he really stood out for the fact he is one of the few uncommitted players at the event. He has a chance to swing for some power and be a solid defender at the next level.

+ RHP A.J. Labas (Trinity Catholic HS, FL) showed the ability to pitch at 87-89 mph and touch 91 with his fastball, which had some late, heavy life. What really stood out was his ability to throw a 79-80 mph changeup in nearly any count, with the same arm speed as the fastball, producing multiple swings and misses.

+ OF/RHP Gabriel Rivera (Miami Killian Senior HS, FL) is one of the more physical players at the event, standing at 6 feet, 202 pounds. Rivera also ran the best 60 out of all the Florida players with a 6.78 and showed an above average arm from the outfield. To go along with the physical tools, Rivera showed a compact swing with some power hitting a home run in the action on day two.